To play an infinite game, start by defining what you stand for
In his best-selling book The Infinite Game, Simon Sinek writes that there are fundamentally two ways of interacting with the world. In one view — the one traditionally taught in business school — the world is finite in size. In order to get a bigger piece of a fixed pie, you must take from someone else.
In the other view, the world is infinite and you can’t even imagine how big the pie might get. You focus your energy on expanding the pie so that everyone can win.
Competition is for losers
Peter Thiel wrote that competition is for losers. If you look at the world as a competition with others, you’re setting yourself up for a finite game, which is a losing game.
Make them owe you
A lot of times people are hesitant to give too much because they’re worried that the other party is not going to reciprocate. That’s a finite-game thinking.
In the infinite game, there is more than enough to go around and the pie is always expanding. Make your customers and anyone else in your life feel like they owe you — that you’re delivering more value to them than they can give to you.
What’s your just cause?
To play an infinite game, start by defining your company’s “just cause.” This is the reason your company exists, beyond making profits and employing a large workforce. Your company makes money and employs people for some larger reason, and it’s your job to define it.
Three elements of a just cause
The three elements of a just cause are:
It’s for something.
It’s service oriented.
SpaceX isn’t just building rockets
The just cause at SpaceX isn’t building rockets. Elon Musk believes it’s critical to have cost-effective mechanisms to get humans beyond earth for the long-term survival of humanity. His just cause is saving humanity.
Netflix wasn’t just renting DVDs
When Netflix first started the technology to achieve its just cause — to bring unlimited entertainment to people’s houses — didn’t even exist yet. So they started with DVDs and kept working on their bigger vision.
Live your just cause
At Royalty Exchange we recently went through a process to define our just cause. At our core, we believe in the power of markets and that transparency provides the information that people need to be able to transact with one another properly. So that guides everything we do — even if it’s uncomfortable to post all of our deals publicly.
Communicate your company’s humanity
There are two main reasons for defining your just cause. One is effectively communicating your company’s humanity to the world.
Especially as businesses get larger and people work to maximize efficiency, the human element can get rung out in the process. Defining your just cause and communicating it to employees can help instill what matters in your company.
It’s like planting a flag in the ground: “This is what we stand for.”
Millennials workers want meaning
Another important reason to state your just cause clearly is that younger workers are searching for meaning in their work. By helping them describe their work in terms that go beyond profits and KPIs, you are putting them in the best possible position for when a friend or family member asks, “So, what are doing these days?”
Unearth the passion
Take a close look to find where the meaning and passion lies in your company, and then do the work to summarize and communicate it to employees, customers, future employees, partners and others.
Finite and Infinite Games, by James Cross
The Infinite Game, by Simon Sinek